The evolution of media, marketing and brands!
All developments in long term context.
French Connection starts social network
British fashion brand French Connection has a social network A New Movement (mb, Dutch). It is a simple network in which people can upload pictures, add a mask, and add connections with friends. It is an almost complete virtual world. There is hardly any room for text. Symbolic brands build worlds in which they invite people and in which people want to bring their friends. Only symbolic brands can do this because they are a part of people’s identities. Like every world, the world of the brand needs to be exciting. A New Movement therefore will continuously be moving. This is only the beginning.
XS4All shows status helpdesk
Internet provider XS4All shows the status of its help desk on the website. Under the button ‘contact’ is no phone number, but the text ‘phone queue’. A meter continuously shows the busyness, while the accompanying text says: ‘It is very busy’, or ‘It is getting busier.’ Only here you will see the phone number, so that anyone who wants to call will first see how busy it is before he or she indeed starts calling. Besides XS4All offers the opportunity to send a text message for free actual information on the phone queue. If it is very busy, the caller will receive another text message when it is quiet again. This way brands start real time dialogues. Later we will be able to see the average queue for a real person, of have our oral question be answered by an artificial brand agent. In the long term, that brand agent will be our primary point of contact. If our virtual XS4All assistant, Xaviera for example, doesn’t know the answer, she suggests: ‘Well, I can’t answer this question. I will connect you to a colleague. At the moment everyone is busy. It will take about five minutes. Shall I have somebody call you back?’ It all seems very normal but this is a regular dialogue that brands need to learn to (automatically) master. And that takes time.
YouTube now contains Uitzending Gemist
YouTube now also contains fragments of Uitzending Gemist (Missed Episode). It's undoubtedly an experiment because it only contains four fragments. Yet this will spread rapidly. YouTube is developing itself as a home entertainment coaching brand and like with any coaching brand it's all about completeness. Home entertainment coaching brands will soon have contact with the consumer, so also on the television, and transaction brands such as producers will look for maximum distribution. This is a step in that direction.
Hostbasket has Kim answer all questions
Hostbasket, the Hosting Solution Provider from Gent (Belgium), introduces Kim: the virtual assistant who can help clients with questions about or advice on hosting packages. It all works through natural language (selfservice company, Dutch). Brands more and more start dialogues with individual consumers. More and more of these dialogues are computerized, to be able to offer 24-hours-a-day service, and to reduce costs. Complex questions are still answered by real people. The consumer however is helped by the computer in most cases, and only rarely gets to speak to a live person. That person then is a real specialist. This is a small step in that direction.
Paid experiences for kids
Through a paid account at Club Penguin kids can fearlessly game, chat and watch. There is a lot of attention for the safety of kids. Parents are updated by email about their kids’ activities. (dc, Dutch) This way the (virtual) experience economy steadily takes shape. We will get high quality content and will pay a lot of money for that. With $5.95 per month this is a good example that it’s really going in that direction.
Insight in own Albert Heijn purchases through Albert.nl
Albert Heijn (AH), the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, introduces a new service for its customers. When customers visit the new site of ordering service Albert.nl (a joint service by AH, Etos drugstores, and Gall&Gall beverages), they can immediately see the purchases they have previously made at Albert Heijn. A customer types in the loyalty card number, and a list of previously purchased products appears. With one click of the mouse these products can be ordered again, or advice can be obtained on other products. This is a very good way for retailers to recognize their customers in the physical world (the store) as well as the virtual world (the website). The advice we get in the virtual world is based on our shopping in the physical world. And the other way around: in the future we will walk into the AH shop, and through our mobile phone, the shopping cart or another display get advice about products we ordered at Albert.nl. The brand dialogue continues where the conversation between consumer and brand stopped the last time. This is a very strong indication that it is really going in that direction.
Through webkoop.nl all one-day sales accessible
Through webkoop.nl consumers get various one-day sales listed on one website (http://www.dutchcowboys.nl/online/10020/fromfeed” title=“dc”>dc, Dutch). This way all information is integrated and linked together. Today we get all one-day sales in one list, later they will be integrated in big virtual shops which contain ALL products and services in a specific branch. It will be the playing field of coaching brands. Including today’s bargains, but also tomorrow’s. We will shop hassle free (in the virtual world). We can even choose if we want to get our stuff at different shops, or get it all at the same one. If we want to get everything delivered at the same time, or in different batches. We will determine how we get it. And the easier it is made for us, the more added value is offered, the more we will pay. This is a small step in that direction.
Joost includes English TV productions
Joost, the biggest and fastest growing video distribution platform which is still in beta, has reached agreements with independent film and television producers All33Media International, Alliance Atlantis, September Films and Wall to Wall, and also with the independent distributors IndieFlix and Shorts International (bm, Dutch). As up and coming home entertainment coaching brand Joost’s focus is on being complete. That’s why the company earlier signed contracts with the biggest producers from the US. In the end, Joost will contain all content that has ever been made, in all languages, no matter how old. Then Joost will help us select the right supply, or even better: “just give me something.” This is a small step in that direction.
Heinz recipe contest
Heinz organizes a recipe contest (in dutch). People can vote for recipes, and the recipe with the highest number of votes will win a cooking workshop (mb, dutch). Brands experience their brand coming out, a process of change in which the boundary between consumer and provider fades. Terms like co-creation, user-generated content, user-generated products, open source marketing and even crowd sourcing: they are all part of this process. Consumers now invent recipes, next they will check, change and approve recipes, design new bottles, new sauces and even new forms of distribution. And the brand just grows stronger and stronger. The brand manager however is not in control any longer so most brands will need to change. That is exciting. These are amusing times!
Marketing Community MarketingFacts starts Newsletter
Dutch marketing community MarketingFacts is starting its own e-mail newsletter. This illustrates the turnaround of the publishing process. It starts with a community: a group of people with shared interest, being marketing in this case. MarketingFacts selects the most important items that have been written on its web log in a week’s time, and publishes these in its newsletter. The next step will be a (paid for) MarketingFacts printed magazine, for which professional journalists will do in-depth research on items which obviously interest the community. Traditionally printed magazines follow the other way around. In the end, communities will be leading, and paper copies will just be there for entertainment and more in-depth information. The brand however will be stronger than ever before. This is a first step in that direction.
BNN makes people smarter
Dutch broadcast organization BNN is going to make people smarter. Presenter Katja Schuurman in the show Get Smarter in A Week will show it is really possible to become a little bit smarter. Famous and infamous Dutch people will get intensive training and spectacular exercises to learn to use their brains anew (ld, Dutch). TV programs are virtual experiences: experiences from a distance. They become more and more personal. Now still for big groups of people, in the future we will follow a personal training with a small group of people, live or not live. A training maybe 10,000 people will follow at the same time, and pay for with big bucks. But we will get smarter through the training, so it is worth it. Now it is still content for big groups of people, on a small budget; in the future content will deliver meaningful experiences for people to carry on with. The selection of the right experiences in this area will be the point of attention for career coaching brands, brands which help us in our personal development. This is a small step in that direction.
KPN becomes informal
KPN is becoming more and more informal. Earlier employees were called by their first name (Dutch), now consumers are given a leaflet 'we're happy with you!' In this leaflet the consumer is addressed completely with 'je', while the site still uses 'u'. (Dutch, like French and German, still distinguishes between a formal and informal second person pronoun.) Two developments can be seen in this. Firstly brands are experiencing a 'brand coming out' in which they become more equal, more transparent and start to develop, operate and communicate more openly with the consumer. This is shown by being on a first name basis amongst other things. Secondly brands will enter the dialogue with individual consumers and maintain a consistent tone like people have when they speak with one another. 'Je' on the site means 'je' on the telephone and 'je' in a leaflet. Other people who'd rather keep their distance will be constantly addressed with 'u': on the site, in the leaflet, on the phone. By that time you'll be welcomed into KPN's virtual world by a brand agent who recognizes you instantly and continues where the dialogue left off. Currently brands are struggling with this, but the looking for the right tone and equality is a step in the evolution of brands.
Psychologie Magazine with personalized covers
Subscribers of Dutch Psychologie Magazine received the anniversary issue with their own picture on the cover. Through Printing On Demand (POD) more than one thousand subscribers received their own personalized version of the magazine. A selection of these covers can be seen in an exhibition in the ‘Kunsthal’ (Art Exhibition Center) in Rotterdam (mf, Dutch). Even magazines become more personal. The internet becomes leading, paper is for learning and entertainment. But the more personal, the better. Especially when it is shown on the coffee table, then it is part of you. If you then can adjust it to your own taste, consumers will not turn their backs on magazines.
Visits mensmerk.nl keep increasing
Since the start of mensmerk.nl, early 2005, the amount of visitors has been increasing steadily. After the Summer vacation however, there was a huge increase. This is when I started writing more, among others in the new categories Media evolution, World evolution, Insight in Humans, Twists, and a couple of other categories. Although the amount of postings has stayed more or less the same after the Summer, all statistics are going up. This goes for the amount of visitors as well as the frequency of their visits, their page views, hits, bytes, everything. Very nice, as that is what I’m working for.
At the moment I’m working on a completely renewed site. The content will stay the same, but the design will completely change. At the moment the design is mostly in line with the book; the next version will be in line with my most important activities: readings, workshops and seminars. But let me comfort you: there will not be any flashing banner trying to lure the visitor into buying a Nokia, upgrade to a better connection or another car. This web log follows changes in media, marketing, brands, people, and society. Nothing less. Nothing more. And it will continue to do that.
RTL GP now on paper
RTL GP Magazine is a magazine about car and motor sport, belonging to the TV program with the same name. The magazine will appear six times per year. The magazine does not repeat the information given in the TV programs: instead, it will provide new items (sak van der boom, Dutch). More and more TV programs get not only their own website, but also their own magazine. The website unites the people under a certain brand. In the end the consumers will determine the content, from the site as well as the magazine. RTL GP then facilitates an online car community, with the paper magazine for learning and entertainment. This is a small step in that direction.